Crucifying Christ Again? John 19:1-16

We live in a day and age where many of those who are not believers revere Christ more than many Christians do. Many will attend a worship service during the week, then go home deny Christ by committing acts that are both sinful and despicable in the Lord’s sight. Many will read their Bibles on Sunday and ignore its words during the week. They will proclaim God’s name while in the midst of fellow believers, but deny Him completely at work or at school. We teach of Christ’s meekness, servant-hood and love for others and yet actively ignore those qualities in our own lives. We say that we want the world to have the same life that we have in Christ, but we fail to tell the world about that life. So many “Christians” today are nothing more than walking contradictions and destroyers of the faith. Why do we, Christians, continue to subject Christ to perpetual crucifixion by our own actions?

Many of the Jews during Christ’s time on the earth were the same way. It seemed that the Gentiles believed more in the Jewish messiah than did the Jews. This can be reflected in John’s account of Christ’s trial before Pilate:

They shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had Him flogged. The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on His head, and threw a purple robe around Him. And they repeatedly came up to Him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and were slapping His face.

Pilate went outside again and said to them, “Look, I’m bringing Him outside to you to let you know I find no grounds for charging Him.”

Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

When the chief priests and the temple police saw Him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

Pilate responded, “Take Him and crucify Him yourselves, for I find no grounds for charging Him.”

“We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

When Pilate heard this statement, he was more afraid than ever. He went back into the headquarters and asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus did not give him an answer. So Pilate said to Him, “You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?”

“You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”

From that moment Pilate made every effort to release Him. But the Jews shouted, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Anyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar!”

When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside. He sat down on the judge’s bench in a place called the Stone Pavement (but in Hebrew Gabbatha). It was the preparation day for the Passover, and it was about six in the morning. Then he told the Jews, “Here is your king!”

But they shouted, “Take Him away! Take Him away! Crucify Him!”

Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?”

“We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered.

So then, because of them, he handed Him over to be crucified[1]

No guilt (vv. 1-6)

How many of us know those people who are simply good at everything? No matter what they try, they seem to be better at it than everyone else. How much attention is drawn to their ability rather than everyone else’s?

In the above passage of scripture, Jesus is on trial and Pilate is the judge. While Pilate admits that he finds no guilt in Christ, many Jews look on and call for Pilate to crucify Jesus. Jesus was the only perfect one and the only one who truly was without guilt and Pilate recognized that and admitted that Christ was without guilt. Many Jews however recognized Christ’s guiltlessness and called for Him to be crucified because they had something to lose if Christ was truly the king of the Jews.

This was a day and time in which the ruling class of the Jews, the Pharisees, had great power within the Jewish community and to admit that a messiah had truly come to them meant that their positions of authority in society would be relinquished because many of them interpreted that the messiah would come in military conquest. They naturally defended their own positions and sought to eliminate the threat to their authority, because many of the Jews had chosen to follow Jesus rather than the group of Pharisees. There was no guilt found in Jesus.

We live in a time when people are unwilling to consider the claims of Christ. It is known that there was no guilt in Him and still, just as this group of Pharisees, many judge that His claims are not valid. If we were to give credence to Christ’s claims, it would mean giving up our positions of authority in our own lives; and so many people simply are not willing to give up that authority.

Pilate’s fear and Christ’s authority (vv. 7-11)

The Jewish leadership replied to Pilate, saying that Jesus had broken one of their laws: claiming that Jesus had committed blasphemy by proclaiming Himself as the Son of God. Upon hearing this statement, Pilate was even more afraid.

If Christ was telling the truth, He was not committing blasphemy. What strikes me as interesting about this story is that the Jews believed that there would be coming a messiah. Yet, when someone came who fulfilled the right prophecies and even performed signs so that they might believe, many Jews rejected Christ and called for His crucifixion. Interestingly enough, there was a prophecy in Hebrew scripture that foretold that the messiah would be rejected by His own people.[2]

Pilate recognized Christ’s perfection and His guiltlessness. When he heard that Christ claimed to be the Son of God, he became more fearful. If there was no guilt in Christ, then He was truly from God. So, Pilate asked Christ where He was from. Jesus did not answer. Pilate reminded Jesus of his authority and Jesus replied, saying, ““You would have no authority over Me at all…if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”

God’s authority

Here, something great about God is revealed. It is that nothing on this earth would happen apart from His permission. On Sunday, 21 of our brothers in Christ were beheaded because of their faith. What we must realize is that the Muslim militants who beheaded them were only able to do so by God’s permission, and we have to trust that God is just in allowing such atrocities in the world. When God Himself has entrusted to humankind the stewardship of the earth, He will not change by taking away our will or judgment. While we are completely depraved as a human race, acting in evil, God still has grace towards us. Christ was put to death at the hands of the Roman government because it was allowed by God. When I die, I will die because it is allowed by God. I should not be concerned much with holding on to this life anyway because I do not live for this earth. I live for God and will be with God forevermore.

Greater sin

Christ also mentioned that those who handed Him over to Pilate were guilty of the greater sin. We often think that God sees all sin equally, but here Christ is judging one sin as greater than the other. While all sin equally separates us from the presence of God, it is important to realize that God does not qualify all sin the same way. Murder really is worse than lying even though both separate us from the presence of God. This is why we need God to return us to Himself. We cannot do it on our own. Even after we are returned to God, He will hold us accountable for the things that we do or don’t do.

“No king but Caesar” (vv. 12-16)

When this group of Pharisees brought Christ before Pilate, they accused Him of blasphemy and of declaring Himself king. When Pilate asked the Pharisees if they really wanted to crucify their king, the Pharisees responded by stating that they had no king but Caesar. I simply wonder who was more guilty of denying God: the messiah who came from God or the Pharisees who claimed that Caesar was their only king. I wonder in our own lives if we are ever guilty of denying the kingship of God in order to appease the world for our own security or our own comfort. Most Christians will watch vulgar media because they do not want to give up the comfort of entertainment. We no longer care about limiting violence or promiscuity on television, we simply accept it because we, too, want to be entertained. What if Christians refused to watch or listen to media glorifying vulgarity or promiscuity because certain things are glorified that do not honor God? The media industry would suffer and would change in order to gain back viewers. This will not happen because so many ‘Christians’ worship media as king, rather than God.

Will we honor God?

            When we do not honor God, we subject Christ to crucifixion over again in our hearts. I think it is time for Christians to take a moral stand in the way that we live. The laws of the state matter, but not near as much as the law that is found in God; which is much stricter.

[1] John 19:1-16 (HCSB)

[2] Isaiah 53:1-3

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